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17 July 2012
Wales’ Chief Medical Officer has reflected on a career dedicated to public health at a University lecture.
Dr Tony Jewell, retiring after six years at the nation’s most senior doctor, spoke at the Glamorgan Lecture Series, hosted by the School of Social Sciences and the School of City and Regional Planning.
Dr Jewell traced how early influences shaped his career and led him to the Chief Medical Officers’ job. After taking a medical degree which included politics and sociology, he spent time on a car assembly line in Coventry to gain a better understanding of living standards, then worked as a GP in a deprived part of London’s east end. This helped form his continuing commitment to high quality care in deprived areas.
The Chief Medical Officer told his audience he had tried to adopt a whole-system approach to health during his time in post. This included the smoking ban, food hygiene ratings and legislation on sun beds. He has always been mindful of Wales’ role in the wider world, building healthcare links with sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr Jewell listed as one of his main influences the late Professor Archie Cochrane, an international pioneer of evidence-based medicine while he was at Cardiff. Dr Jewell has also worked closely with the School of Medicine’s Professor Chris Butler, particularly on primary care in China. He also paid tribute to Cardiff’s Professor Peter Elwood, for his work promoting the wider health benefits of aspirin.
Looking to the future, Dr Jewell left his audience with five calls to action. These were: the importance of health and politics co-operating, the vitality of prevention, the long-term nature of improving public health, the way individuals can inspire and the possibility of tackling social inequity.
Professor Gareth Williams of the School of Social Sciences, who chaired the lecture, said: "This was a fascinating and inspiring talk, highlighting the importance of social justice to Dr Jewell’s view of healthcare. It was particularly pleasing to hear him acknowledge individuals and ideas from Cardiff University as a positive force for change."
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